Denunciation of Israel’s Anti-Boycott Law – by Stephen Lendman
A previous article discussed it in detail, accessed through the following link:
Before and after its July 11 passage, critics called it outrageous, shameful, lawless, and anti-democratic. More on that below.
In contrast, Netanyahu praised the measure, saying he “authorized the bill. If I hadn’t authorized it, it wouldn’t have gotten here. I am opposed to boycotts against Israel and boycotts against groups within Israel.”
The pro-Israeli NGO Monitor (NGOM) tried having it both ways, saying:
It doesn’t “see this legislation as the appropriate means to combat the BDS movement. However, numerous NGOs have released misleading and false statements about the new law, (including saying it) criminalizes freedom of speech.”
In fact, that’s precisely what it does, infringing on the right of Israelis to speak freely on any issue without fear of recrimination.
NGOM, however, called public debate about it “indicative of the strength and vibrancy of Israeli democracy,” when it exists solely for Jews, increasingly only well-off ones, benefitting at the expense of lower income Israelis like in America and other Western states.
On June 19, the Global BDS Movement and Coalition for Women for Peace called the bill:
“one of the most dangerous anti-democratic laws promoted in this current Knesset. Boycott is a nonviolent, legal and legitimate means to promote social and political aims that is protected in civil rights of freedom of expression, opinion and assembly. The bill constitutes a fatal blow to all these civil rights.”
Even the racist, Islamophobic Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued a July 12 press release headlined, “Knesset Anti-Boycott Law May Infringe On Basic Democratic Rights,” ADL’s national director Abraham Foxman (no democracy defender) saying:
It “unduly impinge(s) on the basic democratic rights of Israelis to freedom of speech and freedom of expression.”
At the same time, ADL viciously assails Israeli critics, calling Palestinian supporters anti-Semites, extremists, and radicals, seeking to abolish the state of Israel.
Along with AIPAC, the Zionist Organization of America, and other prominent CPMAJO-listed groups, ADL has a sordid history of links to Mossad, the FBI, CIA and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), fronting for Israel against democratic values and equal justice for Palestinians.
EU spokeswoman Catherine Ashton also tried having it both ways, saying:
“The EU recognizes Israel’s sovereignty in the legislative process. Furthermore, the EU does not advocate boycotts. However, as part of such fundamental values as free expression and speech, (we) are concerned about the effect that this legislation may have on the freedom of Israeli citizens and organizations to express nonviolent political opinions.”
Perhaps Ashton also respects sovereign Nazi Germany’s repressive Nuremberg laws, solidifying its fascist chokehold. Moreover, her anti-boycott position ignores Israel’s illegal occupation and Gaza blockade. EU states and America support them by failing to act against them.
On July 12, Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) writer Ron Kampeas headlined, “From left to right, American Jews are criticizing Israeli anti-boycott law,” saying:
“….American Jewish organizations seem remarkably united in deeming the measure an affront to freedom of expression.”
Jewish Council for Public Affairs’ director, Rabbi Steve Gutow (also going both ways) said:
“We don’t support boycotts.” However, “(t)he law does challenge democracy in a way, and hopefully (Israel’s) Supreme Court will respond.”
Liberal Israeli NGOs and civil rights groups plan legal action against the measure.
Zionist Organization of America’s (ZOA) president Morton Klein also went both ways, saying:
“Nobody was more appalled by the boycott of Ariel (Performing Arts Center) theater than me, but to make it illegal? I don’t think so.”
Many US Jewish groups sharply criticized the new law, including:
— Americans for Peace Now calling it a “flagrant attack on freedom of speech;”
— J Street saying it’s a “clear and unabashed violation of the fundamental democratic precept of freedom of speech;” and
— the New Israel Fund saying:
“Don’t Boycott Democracy. The ‘boycott bill’ criminalizing free speech is only one of many anti-democratic measures that have been introduced in the Knesset,” the most extremist body in Israel’s history.
Israeli peace bloc Gush Shalom founder Uri Avnery called the bill “an assault on the freedom of expression and political association, an attempt to gag the opposition.”
Its web site said it was “the first Israeli body (in the 1990s) to lead a boycott of settlement products….” Calling the measure “unconstitutional and anti-democratic,” it petitioned Israel’s High Court to strike it down. Moreover, Avnery (a former Knesset member) called it “a black stain on the statutes of the State of Israel. It is my sincere hope that the court will overturn it, and save what is left of Israeli democracy.”
Calling the measure “borderline illegal,” Knesset legal advisor Eyal Yinon said the law’s “broad definition of a boycott on the State of Israel is a violation of the core tenet of freedom of political expression.”
Meretz Party MK called the bill “nauseating,” saying “Right wing MKs are bringing garbage to the Knesset under the guise of wanting o protect our national honor. I wonder if there is even democracy in this country.”
In fact, Israeli “democracy” resembles Michael Parenti’s description of America, calling it the “shadier sides of….political life (in which) proponents of the existing order have tried to transform practically every deficiency into a strength.”
In fact, Israel occupies Palestine illegally. Arab citizens are persecuted and denied rights. No constitution exists, just Basic Laws, and Israel is the only country with no fixed borders because expansionism is state policy.
So is war, a history of violence, and defiance of human and civil right, democratic values, as well as fundamental international laws and dozens of critical UN resolutions.
No matter. Washington affords full support, the US State Department issuing muted anti-boycott bill criticism, saying passage was an “Israeli internal matter,” at the same time affirming “freedom of expression, including freedom to peacefully organize protest (as) a basic right under democracy.”
A Final Comment
Defying the new law, Peace Now responded with a selective boycott for the first time in its 33-year history. In addition, it set up a Facebook group called, “So Sue Me, I’m Boycotting the Settlements.”
On July 14, Haaretz writers Tomer Zarchin and Jonathan Lis headlined, “Dozens of Israeli law professors protest ‘unconstitutional’ boycott law,” saying:
Those against it include:
— University of Haifa Law School Dean Niva Elkin-Koren;
— Ramat Gan Academic Center Law School Dean Moshe Cohen-Eliya;
— former Tel Aviv University Law School Deans Hanoch Dagan, Ariel Porat, and Menachem Mautner;
— former Hebrew University Law School Dean Uriel Procaccia; and
— former University of Haifa Law School Dean Eli Salzberger.
Hebrew University’s Professor Alon Harel called the new law the “tyranny of the majority….aimed at promoting one viewpoint and subjugating another….”
Opposing the law, many doctoral candidates wanted their names listed publicly. However, they were withheld to prevent harming their chances for university appointments.
In today’s Israel, activists supporting Palestinian equity, justice, sovereignty, ending the occupation, diaspora Palestinians’ right to return home, East Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital, and boycotts of Israeli products, services and activities until lawless practices end, do so at considerable risk.
No wonder many Israelis are voting with their feet and leaving!
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.